“One night we maybe play 52 (of 60) minutes, then the next night we only play 20. That’s what’s costing us hockey games.” Justin Williams told reporters after the Hartford Wolf Pack once again failed to put a full 60 minute effort on the ice in their 4-3 loss to the Manchester Monarchs in front of a special school day matinee at the Verizon Wireless Arena Wednesday afternoon.
“Most of our shots and (scoring) chances came on our power play until the third period, when we started getting a little bit generated five-on-five, but not enough.” Head Coach Ken Gernander said to reporters afterwards. When asked his view on three of the four goals that were scored came on power plays, the fourth year Head Coach replied, “The penalty kill was a bit disappointing.”
Justin Azevedo, Viatcheslav Voynov and Alec Martinez feasted on Wolf Pack mistakes as each put a goal and an assist on their scorecard. Meanwhile left winger Bud Holloway added two helpers for the Monarchs. With the win Manchester was able to leapfrog over the idle Springfield Falcons into second place and closed to within five points of the first place Portland Pirates.
For the Wolf Pack, leading scorer Justin Williams continued his hot hand adding two goals to lead the Pack with ten. Kris Newbury, second on the team with thirteen points, supplied two assists. Pavel Valentenko had his first goal as a member of the Wolf Pack who at 4-10-2-2 find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.
Unlike games past where the Wolf Pack dug themselves an early hole, they jumped out early on their hosts as just 28 ticks into the game. Kris Newbury won an offensive zone faceoff to starter Jeff Zatkoff’s right. The Wolf Pack center won the faceoff cleanly back to Pavel Valentenko behind him. Valentenko then slid to the left and uncorked a missile that hit Zatkoff (6-5-1, 22 saves) for a 1-0 lead.
Things seemed to be going the Pack’s way when the Monarchs followed up the goal at 1:37 with David Kolomatis going to the box for tripping Devin DiDiomete. However the Wolf Pack power play, which finished the game at 1-of-5 (including a 1:34 of 5-on-3) were unable to do anything with their man-advantage. The strong performance by the Manchester penalty killers woke the Monarchs from their early game malaise.
The Monarchs began to push the play at he Wolf Pack and they obliged by surrendering a goal at 6:08. With pressure in the offensive zone coming from the home team and shots were being unloaded on the Wolf Pack’s Chad Johnson (3-10-1, 28 saves), Jyri Niemi was unable to clear Jordan Nolan from the crease. After Holloway put the puck on net, Nolan, on the left side of the crease, was able to whack away at the puck and slid it under Chad Johnson to knot the score and put his first AHL goal on the books.
Then things got kind of strange.
With 3:42 remaining referee Mark Lemelin called Wolf Pack defenseman Jared Nightingale for an interference call. Nothing strange about that, except that the guy he supposedly “interfered” with, wasn’t even moving. Sixteen seconds later, Williams was moving the puck out of the Pack end and bobbling the puck with his head down. Corey Elkins put a HARD shoulder to shoulder hit on the right winger and sent him crashing hard into the boards right in front of the Pack bench. Newbury would have nothing to do with that as his teammate was down on the ice and promptly attacked Elkins and the two dropped their gloves. No penalty was called on the hit on Williams.
Then 16 seconds later and with 2:46 to go, Tim Kennedy was whistled for a phantom cross-check on a guy who was already going down. The call gave Manchester a 1:27 5-on-3 power play.
But then Brandon Kozun was whistled by Lemelin for his own mysterious boarding call creating a 4-on-3.
58-seconds later, Martinez wristed a shot from above the right circle and beat a screened Johnson over the stick side blocker to give the 2-1 lead to the Monarchs with 1:25 to go in the first period.
But that wasn’t all.
With 40 seconds left in the period, Thomas Hickey took a high sticking call that gave the Wolf Pack a 17 second 5-on-3. Then, just ten seconds after the first 5-on-3 ended, Kozan went back to the box after slashing Williams creating another 1:33 of two-man advantage.
The first period ended with the Pack down 2-1 and 12-9 in shots.
The Wolf Pack were unable to do much of anything even with the two men up. Wade Redden hit a post 54-seconds into the man-up situation before Mats Zuccarello had the team’s best chance with a shot as the power play ended, but it went for naught. Chad Kolarik was stopped on a breakaway by a strong save by Zatkoff.
Johnson matched the strong play when he made a strong save on Nolan’s bid for his second goal off a 2-on-1 od man rush. He also flashed the leather to deny Voynov on a second odd man rush.
Evgeny Grachev made a strong move across the slot and was hooked by Richard Clune at 10:21 which sent the Wolf Pack to what would be their fifth and last power play of the game. It would also set up the Pack’s only power play goal of the game.
Kennedy fed Williams in the left circle and the Regina, Saskatchewan native blasted a one-timer that Zatkoff couldn’t get to and knotted the score at two.
But as has been their MO all season long, in a ying-yang kind of thing, it was Williams himself who overreacted after the ensuing faceoff and took a hooking call at 11:15 that would set up what would prove to be the game winner.
Andrei Loktionov made a magnificent across the crease pass that found a streaking Voynov down from the right point backdoor past Valentenko who had turned his back on the play. The goal was Voyonov’s third of the season.
The Monarchs were pouring shots on the net with the Pack applying virtually no pressure at all back the other way.
If there’s one thing that constant offensive pressure does to a team that’s struggling like the Wolf Pack are is it leads to penalties.
Valentenko complied by taking a high sticking call with 5:59 to go in the second.
With just 18 seconds left on the man advantage, Oscar Moller fed Azevedo coming in off his spot off the left point and into the circle and wristed it through the legs of Jared Nightingale and over Johnson’s glove for his fifth of the season.
In the final frame, Newbury set up Jeremy Williams from behind the net. The center found his winger free in the right circle. Williams then one timed it right past Zatkoff. Kelsey Tessier also got an assist on the goal.
Finally, with the Wolf Pack pressing and time running out, with 40.2 left in the contest, Zuccarello fired a wide open shot from low in the right face off circle only to have Zatkoff come back to make a big save and send the team into their final four games with another loss.
“I got a pretty good, quick shot, but it was an unbelievable save,” Zuccarello told the press assembled in the locker room. “A little higher and it would have been a goal, but I couldn’t believe I missed. I was trying to shoot as fast as I could because there were guys coming at me and a few in front of me, and I don’t know how he saw me. But on a day like this, it’s a tough break. It’s kind of the story of our season right there.”
Zatkoff told reporters that, “I was just trying to get over and fill space. It was a desperation save at that point, especially at that time in the game. I was fortunate enough that it hit me in the pad, and I was able to cover it.”
The team is currently on a 1-9-2-1 slide that could end their season in November if they don’t start putting some wins together.
Bruce Berlet’s always fascinating reports can be found at HartfordWolfPack.com. What there is of a game report for the Monarchs is at UnionLeader.com.
GAME SUMMARY and OFFICIAL SCORERS SHEET
* This is the first and last road School Day game for the Wolf Pack who have played a couple of them at the XL Center. They play another one on February 9th in Toronto but will be the Connecticut Whale by then.
* In an interesting note, and one that’s right on the money, the New York Rangers are making a West Coast trip without a 7th defenseman. John Tortorella told Steve Zipay, “There’s nobody ready in Hartford. But in an emergency, we’ll get someone there.”
* Of the ten games this team has lost already, nine of them were in one goal games the tenth really a one–goaler since there was an empty-netter in that one.
* More “un-fun” news to report is that this team is averaging an AHL-low 2.06 goals per game.
* Dale Weise reports that his surgically repaired wrist is back to 100% and he feels he could be returning to the ice with his teammates this weekend. “I’m close, real close,” Weise told Bruce Berlet. “We’ll have to see how things go the next few days.”
* Brodie Dupont left the game in the last minute after getting cut by a skate in a collision.
Dupont – Kennedy – Zuccarello
Grachev – Newbury – J. Williams
DiDiomete – Kolarik – Tessier
Donati – Garlock – McKelvie
Redden – Nightingale
Valentenko – Niemi
McDonagh – Kundratek
(Assistant Captains Bold and Italicized)
Dale Weise – Wrist Surgery – Three to Four Weeks
Justin Soryal – Facial Injury – Day-to-Day
Nigel Williams – Healthy Scratch
Lee Baldwin – Healthy Scratch
1. MCH – A. Martinez
2. MCH – V. Voynov
3. HFD – J. William
ON ICE OFFICIALS:
Mark Lemelin (84)
Landon Bathe (80)
Scott Whittemore (96)
The Wolf Pack visit are in Springfield at 7:30pm on Friday night with just 4 games to go till the rebranding. They then travel to Binghamton (7:05pm) on Saturday and Sunday its off to Hershey (5:00pm). The last game as the Wolf Pack is next Friday in Bridgeport (7:00). Friday Bob Crawford will have the late pregame at 7pm.
To watch the game live, you can purchased it for $6.99 at AHL-live.
For Ticket information call (860) 548-2000.
Too far away or can’t make it? Listen live at WTIC.com or from your cell phone or computer visit www.twitter.com/howlingstoday for complete live in-game coverage.
Hartford Wolf Pack 3 at Manchester Monarchs 4 – Status: Final
Wednesday, November 17, 2010 – Verizon Wireless Arena
Hartford 1 1 1 – 3
Manchester 2 2 0 – 4
1st Period-1, Hartford, Valentenko 1 (Newbury), 0:28. 2, Manchester, Nolan 1 (Holloway, Azevedo), 6:08. 3, Manchester, Martinez 5 (Voynov, Holloway), 18:35 (PP). Penalties-Kolomatis Mch (tripping), 1:37; Dupont Hfd (tripping), 11:02; Nightingale Hfd (interference), 16:42; Newbury Hfd (fighting), 16:58; Elkins Mch (fighting), 16:58; Kennedy Hfd (cross-checking), 17:14; Kozun Mch (boarding), 17:37; Hickey Mch (high-sticking), 19:20; Kozun Mch (slashing), 19:47.
2nd Period-4, Hartford, Williams 9 (Kennedy, Dupont), 10:42 (PP). 5, Manchester, Voynov 3 (Loktionov, Moller), 11:50 (PP). 6, Manchester, Azevedo 5 (Mullen, Martinez), 15:43 (PP). Penalties-Clune Mch (hooking), 10:21; Williams Hfd (hooking), 11:15; Valentenko Hfd (high-sticking), 14:01; Kolarik Hfd (roughing), 17:42; Kolomatis Mch (roughing), 17:42.
3rd Period-7, Hartford, Williams 10 (Newbury, Tessier), 5:10. Penalties-Zuccarello Hfd (slashing), 19:59.
Shots on Goal-Hartford 9-7-9-25. Manchester 12-17-3-32.
Power Play Opportunities-Hartford 1 / 5; Manchester 3 / 6.
Goalies-Hartford, Johnson 3-10-1 (32 shots-28 saves). Manchester, Zatkoff 6-5-1 (25 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Mark Lemelin (84).
Linesmen-Landon Bathe (80), Scott Whittemore (96).